The tenth of February, 2011: a very difficult man to understand

His cricket career was long before my time, and I don’t remember him on Test Match Special, but it’s always sad when an old cricketer leaves the crease, particularly in circumstances as horrific as those that attended the  death of Trevor Bailey this week.

Andy Bull’s eulogy on the Guardian’s cricket website was – entirely typically (both of the writer and the site) – heartfelt, honest, thoughtful, knowledgeable and compassionate.

The obituary in the Telegraph unearths a nice detail: PG Wodehouse watched the young Bailey play for Wodehouse’s old school, Dulwich, in 1939, and the horror of the experience stayed with him for 22 years (‘T Bailey played a dreadful innings,’ he told Alistair Cooke in 1961).

Bailey’s dour batting gets more stick in his Sporting Life obituary, which quotes the great Neville Cardus (from his book Cricket Of Vintage):

Before he gathered together 20 runs, a newly-married couple could have left Heathrow and arrived in Lisbon, there to enjoy a honeymoon. By the time Bailey had congealed 50, this happily wedded pair could easily have settled down in a semi-detached house in Surbiton and by the time his innings had gone to its close they conceivably might have been divorced.

I’ve struggled to find footage of Bailey in action. I was hoping to track down, if not some of his flashing stroke-play, then at least a few moments of stolid defensive stonewalling – but all I can find is a clip of Bailey being run out for 7 and knackering his knee in the fourth Test of the 1953 Ashes (a draw, in the end – Bailey hit a handy 38 in the second innings, and took 1 for 9 at 1.50 to keep the Aussies, chasing 177, pegged back). At least it was in Leeds – even if it was, as the Pathé man says, “one of the most depressing starts to a Test Match ever seen at Leeds”. Here it is, anyway. Trevor Bailey is the last man out.

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